Basic Surfcasting Tips (Improve Your Chances of Success and Comfort)

Whether you fish off the rocks in the northeast or in the sand wash in the gulf states, these general surf casting tips may be able help you, regardless of your target species.

Know Your Target Species

The most important things you need to know have to do with the habits and forage of the fish you’re chasing. Sheepshead live amongst rocks; bluefish follow schools of baitfish like bunker; striped bass often feed beneath them.

Reading up on the habits of your target quarry will help you pick the right times of year and the right lures (or cut bait) to pursue them.

Use Two Rods

In general, using two rods can hedge your bets against your technique. Stake one and throw out a rig with cut bait, and with the other, work a lure like a spoon or a diving plug up and down the beach. Just be prepared to respond quickly to the staked rod as a strong fish can drag it into the wash if you aren’t ready.

Don’t Cheap on Sand Spikes

On that latter note, get high-quality sand spikes (aluminum is good) and drive them in as far as possible if you’re going to fish a bait rig. You don’t want to turn your head and lose a 500-dollar outfit cause a fish ran away with it.

Tie on a Shock Leader

Using the right weight is critical not only to casting distance but, for bait anglers, for holding the bottom in a strong current. However, heavy weights can also snap your line on the cast. Always tie on a shock leader to help absorb the power of your cast – 10 lbs per ounce is a good baseline. That is, use a 4 ounce weight, tie on a 40 lb shock leader, 50 lbs for 5 ounces, 60 lbs for 6 ounces, and so on.

Protect Your Fingers

Repeatedly casting a heavy rig or lure, with either a spinning or a casting outfit, can shred your thumb or your casting finger. You can buy commercially available thumb and finger protectors, but you can also just wrap it up with a bit of duct tape – that works just as well.

Read the Low Water and the Surf

Scouting is just as important in fishing as it is in hunting. Take a ride up and down the beach one day at low tide before you cast. Look for changes in sea-bottom topography, piles, shellfish beds, weeds, and other obstructions. Structure can snag your rig, but it will also hold fish. Also, look for dips, bars, and submerged clusters of rocks. At low tide, even if you can’t see them because they are still submerged, you can often locate them because water will swell around or break over them.

Always Be Prepared with Women’s Fishing Rain Gear

Always be prepared with fishing rain gear before you surfcast, even if the skies are clear. Stiff offshore winds and a good chop can turn into a driving spray that will soak you as quick;y as rain will. Staying dry means being prepared with quality rain gear. For lady anglers, be prepared with women’s fishing rain gear made by women, for women, such as what you’ll find online at They carry jackets, pants, bibs, and deck boots, all waterproof, and all designed to offer a better fit and superior comfort.

Have Plenty of Water

Even if you fish in the early spring when it’s still frigid on the beach, pack plenty of water, as wind and sun can still dehydrate you.

Learn to Land on the Incoming Wave

When you do hook a fish, don’t try to horse it out of the wash, as this is where a lot of break-off occur. Instead, gradually lead the fish up into the wash; most fish will turn broadside with waves in an attempt to use the resistance of the water to their advantage. As the fish rises on a wave, use that forward momentum to pull the fish up onto the beach. It will make landing it a lot easier for you.

Don’t Wet Wade

Unless you fish in the high heat of summer, wet wading is not a good idea. It’s a good way to get hypothermia. In the spring and early summer, the ocean is at its coldest. Invest in a good pair of waders that are insulated, to keep you not only dry but warm.

Ready for spring? Now what you need to do is get in touch with the local shops and listen in on the reports. See what’s running and what they’re hitting, and take your first trip down to the beach. It’s been a long winter!

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